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What are GFCI outlets?

Since ground fault circuit protection was adopted in Canada over 40 years ago, the number of people dying annually from electrocution has been steadily reduced from over 800 to less than 200. (Source: Electrical Safety Foundation International).

GFCIs are electrical safety devices that are built into the electrical outlet. Their function is to constantly monitor the flow of electricity in a circuit to detect irregularities in real-time. If you become part of a path for stray current, you can be severely shocked or electrocuted. These outlets prevent deadly shock by quickly shutting off the flow of power to the circuit when the device senses an imbalance.

Electrical Inspection Sherwood Park

A GFCI testing tool can help determine if it is wired correctly.

Where are GFCI outlets required?

The Canadian Electrical Code requires that a Class A GFCI be provided to protect all receptacles within 1.5 metres of a sink. It also requires that all receptacles installed outdoors and within 2.5 metres of finished grade be protected by a Class A GFCI.

In recent years, all single-phase outlets have been mandated to have GFCI outlets installed, which was previously exclusively the case for those located near water. GFCI outlets should also be installed on temporary electrical systems during building, remodeling, or maintenance of temporarily powered structures.

Importance of GFCI protection

Electrical shocks are highly uncomfortable, and really, no one likes to die right? In the event of a ground fault you could be shocked or even electrocuted. It is more likely to happen in moist areas or near sources of water. Bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoor locations with a lot of moisture are the most typical areas. This is because water acts as a conduit for electrical current and increases the risk of injury or death.

The above scenarios can be safeguarded against by installing ground-fault circuit interrupters. Monitoring the current flow prevents shock by interrupting the circuit if the device senses a sudden ground fault.


GFCI outlets have been around a long time and have proven their effectiveness, but they should be tested for proper operation as part of routine maintenance as they are susceptible to wear and tear.

In the event that ground fault protection has not been installed; what can I say? Just do it! It’s pretty cheap insurance that just may save the life of your loved one some day.

Electrical Inspection Sherwood Park

GFCI protection is required in all bathrooms.

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